The Nature of Human Persons
Metaphysics and Bioethics
442 pages, 6.00 x 9.00
Hardcover | 9780268107734 | June 2020
eBook (EPUB) | 9780268107758 | June 2020
eBook (PDF) | 9780268107765 | June 2020
The questions of whether there is a shared nature common to all human beings and, if so, what essential qualities define this nature are among the most widely discussed topics in the history of philosophy and remain the subject of perennial interest and controversy. This book offers a metaphysical investigation of the composition of the human essence—that is, with what is a human being identical or what types of parts are necessary for a human being to exist: an immaterial mind, a physical body, a functioning brain, a soul? It also considers the criterion of identity for a human being across time and change—that is, what is required for a human being to continue existing as a person despite undergoing physical and psychological changes over time? Jason Eberl's investigation presents and defends a theoretical perspective from the thirteenth-century philosopher and theologian Thomas Aquinas. Advancing beyond descriptive historical analysis, this book places Aquinas’s account of human nature into direct comparison with several prominent contemporary theories: substance dualism, emergentism, animalism, constitutionalism, four-dimensionalism, and embodied mind theory. There are practical implications of exploring these theories as they inform various conclusions regarding when human beings first come into existence—at conception, during gestation, or after birth—and how we ought to define death for human beings. Finally, each of these viewpoints offers a distinctive rationale as to whether, and if so how, human beings may survive death. This book’s central argument is that the Thomistic account of human nature includes several desirable features that other theories lack and offers a cohesive portrait of one’s continued existence from conception through life to death and beyond.
Jason T. Eberl is professor of health care ethics and director of the Albert Gnaegi Center for Health Care Ethics at Saint Louis University. He is the author of a number of books, including Contemporary Controversies in Catholic Bioethics.
"This book makes an original and significant contribution to the field. There are innumerable books in bioethics, but none that take up issues of human anthropology in anything like the depth found in Jason Eberl's The Nature of Human Persons." ~Christopher Kaczor, Loyola Marymount University